On Good Friday I attended a service held at the historic St. James AME Church. The pastor is Rev. James Edward Murray Jr. The seven words—born, dying, when will we be resurrected?—is a misnomer, because it’s really seven statements made by the savior as he hung on the cross.
All seven guest ministers were excellent in their presentation. The first was delivered by Rev. Helen Burton, pastor, Ebenezer AME Church, Aliquippa, Pa. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
2. Reverend Thomas Spenser, pastor, Lincoln Avenue Church of God, Pittsburgh, Pa. “Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”
3. Reverend Albert Fonnan, pastor, New Destiny CME Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. “Woman, behold thy son!…Behold thy mother!”
4. Reverend Denise Welch, pastor, Bidwell Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
5 Reverend Eugene Downing, Pastor, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, Pittsburgh Pa. “I Thirst.”
6. Reverend Randy Bush, pastor, East Liberty Presbyterian Church, Pittsburgh, Pa. “It is finished.”
7. Reverend Loran Mann, pastor, Pentecostal Temple, Pittsburgh, Pa. “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.”
The people in attendance clapped, shouted “amen,” “preach, preacher” and demonstrated the kind of enthusiasm that the church must expand outside its four walls if our communities are to be saved.
It has always been my conviction that the Black Church should be out front on resolving the problems that threaten to destroy us as a people. The ministers generally get paid and have an obligation to represent the congregation and the surrounding community, because the Black Church is often the biggest piece of property that Blacks own, because overwhelmingly absentee landlords own the properties in our neighborhoods.
Our neighborhoods have become the equivalence of cemeteries, not just because of the violence but because of the overall detrimental effects of drugs, unbelievable rate of incarceration and unemployment that contributes to single parent homes, inadequate schools, nonexisting business districts and almost a 100 percent absence of Black-owned businesses.
I have been a member of Christian Methodist Episcopal Church since 1931 and have been an active member ever since I was able to recite a verse in church. I have witnessed too many negative changes in churches of all denominations. There are modern churches that don’t even preach the Bible, their whole focus is a god of materialism. A number of church-goers put an over emphasis on numbers, but the God I serve and the Bible I read never make a distinction between big churches and small churches. How many of you who attend church remember when we had ministers who reinforced that we as a people and a person were somebody, long before the Civil Rights Movement? These ministers made us understand that there was nothing impossible with hard work, prayer and remaining focused on God. There was an added emphasis on responsibility for family, self and neighbors. Are you aware of the differences, if any, between a preacher, minister or pastor? The overwhelming difference in the church of yesterday and the church of today is the lack of men who attend church. It is a deplorable situation.
It is an absolute conviction of mine that OUR CHURCHES HAVE NOT ONLY THE RESPONSIBILITY, BUT THE OBLIGATION AND THE DIRECTIVE FROM THEIR LORD AND SAVIOR TO RESURRECT OUR COMMUNITIES.
It is not a physical resurrection, but a resurrection of the mind and soul, a physiological resurrection where we as people will no longer sell death to our neighbors, rob and steal but rather become responsible people when it involves our families, parents, wives and community.
We will attend all the public meetings that have an effect on all aspects of our lives such as Pittsburgh City Council and the Pittsburgh School Board thereby demonstrating our concern politically and for our children’s educational welfare.
It is paramount that we resurrect ourselves; that we become business people again and promote self-help. This current generation doesn’t recall life without foundation support; doesn’t recollect how we survived as a people before 501-C3s.
There must be a resurrection in the minds of those who contend that those of my generation did nothing. They need to sit down and contemplate how they are working, where they work and the fact that it did not just happen because they earned a degree.
The Kingsley Association still needs your financial support.
(Louis “Hop” Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)